Community-led research: A conversation with Eva Muchiri and Nicera Wanjiru

Nov 18, 2022

“A project comes, a project leaves. The community will always remain. But now, what do you leave in that community?”

In this episode, Miriam Maina talks to Eva Muchiri and Nicera Wanjiru from Muungano wa Wanavijiji – the Kenyan federation of slum dwellers – about data collection and mapping, the importance of communities in driving research agendas and outcomes, and the legacy that programmes like ACRC leave behind in communities.

Eva Muchiri is from the informal settlement of Mathare in Nairobi and is a youth federation member and woman leader.

Nicera Wanjiru is a woman leader, community data collector and mapper from Nairobi’s Kibra informal settlement.

Miriam Maina is from Nairobi and is a postdoctoral research fellow at the African Cities Research Consortium, working on the housing domain.


The full podcast transcript is available below.

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Intro Welcome to the African Cities podcast. 

Miriam Maina Good afternoon. Good evening, everyone. My name is Miriam Maina, and I’m a postdoctoral researcher at the ACRC African Cities Research Consortium. I’m from Nairobi and I’m doing most of my research in Nairobi. And I’m very happy today to talk to two very exciting young community mobilisers. I’m going to let you introduce yourselves. Eva and Nicera, welcome. Eva, tell us about yourself, who you are and what you do. And a bit of an introduction. 

Eva Muchiri I’m Eva Muchiri a federation member of Muungano. I come from Mathare and I’m a youth and woman leader. And what I love most is working with the community. It’s always a learning session and it’s always good to understand how different communities cope with their situations. 

Miriam Maina Thank you. 

Nicera Wanjiru My name is Nicera. I am from Kibra, Kibra is an informal settlement, but now it’s shrinking. I am a woman leader. I’m also involved in a lot of data and mapping in communities, in what I love most is, when I train communities about the importance of mapping, the importance of data, because at the end of the day, data is the new currency, data is good and with mapping, and when communities are capacity building around mapping and data, they’re able to advocate for the services, they are able to raise their voice, being that they have the evidence at their end. 

Miriam Maina That’s very true. Thank you very much. And I think we can start from there, because we went to see one of the most successful urban reform projects in Mukuru, whereby we learnt that Muungano, in a bigger group of consortium members, actually mobilised and worked with the community in a very revolutionary way to begin to bring community knowledge to the table and transform some of the ways in which informal settlement upgrading is considered, how planning is done. And I think at the centre of that was data. So using Mukuru as an example, but also your own experiences in Mathare and in Kibra, how has the idea of using community data to not just report on what’s happening, or just a research tool that is used by researchers that goes back to some reports, but actually as an active platform on which the community is mobilising the city. So what are the experience in Mukuru, but also in your own day-to-day work? Are there other examples that you would like to share of a similar nature? 

Eva Muchiri As I said earlier in the analyst, we collect data for a purpose. Yes, it’s the academia who come and want to find out something about us, our communities, let me not say ‘certain communities’, our communities. But now we look at, as a community what can we grab out of the research? What is the interest of the community? What does the community want and what is the community going to grab from this research? So when the academia come, do their research, for us, as Muungano, we say, ‘return the data  back to us’, because we use it as an advocacy tool to lobby for resources. That’s when, in reality, we are in shortage of something. In reality they are misusing this. It is supposed to be used like this. So for us, when doing the data, it gives the community the power and the mandate to know that data is not for academia, but data is for the betterment of the community. So it is also making the community understand their whole area approach, understanding their wants and needs and also making them understand their rights as  Kenyan citizens. So while you are doing the Mukuru SPA, it was research that came upon the community was so affected by eviction notices. So due to eviction notices, it led to Mukuru being declared a special planning area, because with the data collected, it showed the uniqueness of the challenges that we are facing. So when Mukuru was declared a special planning area, two years no development that can undergo can be seen in Mukuru without the county government knowing about it. So with talking with the stakeholders, giving them the data, showing them the proof, because we can’t just go in and say, you know, there are people who are living in Mukuru and there are about 400, you don’t have quality data. So for us, we go to ground level. We engage the community from day one, of awareness, of saying that we want to declare Mukuru a special planning area, we want the community to support us. And that’s why it is successful, because from the first day we knew of the community. The community led in the research. The community did the research itself. The community understood its uniqueness. The community understood the challenges they are facing. The community even knew how much densely they are and how less services are in their area. So they realised we really need to advocate and lobby for these things to come, for us, because in reality, in planning, one single toilet is supposed to be used by five people. One single tap is supposed to be used by 20 people, but not in Mukuru. It has around over 300,000 residents. And when we did the data, it had less taps, it had less water points, it had less sanitation facilities. So the community realised we really need to lobby. We don’t have even access points. In case of a fire outbreak here, more than many families are going to suffer or which families have been suffering. Whenever there’s any fire outbreak, whenever we have an emergency, even an outbreak of a disease, it’s difficult for an ambulance to access the place that has the emergency. So even for the government to give us, to allocate us with the services and the resources, we really need to know how many do we have? Are they working or not? So we really look at data until into the household level, inside the house: how are you doing it? How are you coping up?  While you are coping up, the government needs to also intervene. So the community holds the government accountable because most of the time they say there are not people who live in the informal settlements. But as we show them that in reality there are people and they are many and we are densely populated in these areas. But the services that we have are not enough. We find in a case like in Mathare, a whole ward has not any public school. You can imagine. So there are only community schools. Our whole ward has only one primary school, and yet it has over 10,000 people living in that area. So there’s a shortage. We don’t even have a playground. When our children are playing and there’s someone cooking mandazi and they fall inside, it’s an accident. So we don’t have space. There’s not enough space. My good friend negotiated with the government. We gave them the data. We said, okay, we really need this, but for us to do this, we need to pave the way and for us to pave the way, there are people who are going to be affected and this number of people are going to be affected. We also do the data of how many people are going to be affected. So  if there’s going to be any compensation, the families who are going to be affected will be compensated, and the services brought down to the community. So it’s two way. I’m affected but at the same time I’m gaining. So it’s a two way. But the community accepts. What the community does not accept is being evicted without being involved. But when you involve me and tell me you want to pave the way here, you want to create, to construct a hospital here. So we’ll do the data on how many people are going to be affected when this hospital is going to be constructed. So how many people? How are they going to be compensated? How they can pave the way? But most of the times, earlier on, it was not negotiations. You just find a bulldozer, it was in the weird times of the night. You can imagine, and you can imagine now during a pandemic, you’re being evicted during the pandemic. It’s even raining, where are you going to? So the community with the data we have been collecting, have given them power to know and understand their rights and to know how to negotiate. Because with Mukuru, it’s the community who negotiated with the county government for them to get the services that you saw down there, for them to get the simplified sewer. We also learnt from other countries. How do you do about it? The simplified sewer system was 19. It started in Zimbabwe, then Tanzania took it. So Kenya we learnt from Zimbabwe and Tanzania, so we are implemented in Mukuru. It can work, that means it can work. So we always try and weigh options. We bring in development through the county government. And how is the community responding to the development? Because the community wants it. Earlier on, the government will decide. They’re going to put a school here and they will not tell you. They’ll just come and start evicting everybody. But now it has created a platform where we can negotiate. We really needed, there are people who are going to be affected, how is this going to work? So we co-interrelate the two problems: evictions and lack of school. Evictions end up, we’ve a sewer line, evictions and also development. We co-interrelate there being relocated to pave way for development. So that’s how we use our data. We train the community to own their data. We also, whenever we are collecting any data, we give it back to the community. The community challenges it if it’s not true. The community has the right to add and remove the data. So at times we will give the community the opportunity to analyse it for themselves. So with the technical part of federation, they do the analyse, but they bring it back for the community to analyse it more, to remove, or to add, or to understand, to even understand it better. And how when if I’m given a platform in a county government office, I’m able to represent my community. So Mukuru has been successful and we have seen the changes. So now it is in Mathare. They are also pushing for Mathare to be declared a special planning area, which is in the process, because we had a stakeholders’ meeting and they accepted in supporting us in declaring Mathare as a special planning area. So we also want Mathare people, my community, I want them to own the process, of which they have started owning the process, by helping us in doing the data collection. Once you have a physical address system, where by now the communities in Mathare we have villages in Mathare. We are doing something called profiling and enumeration. We have a numbering system that is in every door, even a toilet facility has a physical address, in the sense that like now in a village called Kiamutisya we only have four public toilets. That village has over 2,000 households and they have only four public toilets with seven cubicles, men and females. So those are 14 cubicles. So having a whole cluster of more than 400 households, is it really? It’s not even logical. So they have the mandate to advocate for the services to be brought down. They have water points, but they are not working. They are cartels. We call them informal business people. They are trying to govern the community. But now the community understands ‘why are you making me pay for water yet I can get it at a free cost? Or at a negotiated fee, which I can afford as a community person’. Because we found out that even the amount that a person earns per month is a community person, it exists, your expenditure at the end of the month. So you find most of the people who live in the informal settlements, we really depend on that. Because if I’m earning 15,000 shillings, I need to pay rent, I need to pay school fees. I’m paying for my services, for trailer dumping, for water and food is always expensive than rent. So we are trying to make the community understand and know their community better and their rights, through the data we collect. And also through the push that the Federation members are at large. We are so many and the women are so many in Federation leadership, but what you always see, the voice of a woman is very powerful because we women, we are the ones who know how to even manage a house. So when you hear a woman making a noise, it’s crucial. For us, we sound it as crucial. So when you hear a woman complaining, it’s really serious. So we put women at the forefront and we also bring them in to back them up. And also the youth, we will support them more in advocating. So we are always at the forefront of making the community make sure that whatever they are advocating and lobbying for is reality and they can own it. Not for me, a person who lives in Mathare, to go and advocate for services in Mukuru, no. It’s for the person within Mukuru to advocate for what he or she wants, because whatever I want in Mathare might not be what you want in Mukuru. Not every development that is implemented in Mukuru will be implemented in Mathare. Mathare wants changes, but the way these changes will be disseminated into the ground will be different with how it happened in Mukuru. So there is a way to approach Mathare and there is a way to approach Mukuru. So every community has its own unique voice. 

Miriam Maina Yeah, that’s very helpful Eva, thank you very much. And I like that idea of the diversity of different communities, because sometimes the assumption is that low-income communities all function the same and one solution will be equal to everyone. But I want to pick up your point around the fact that it is a present and active community that is mobilising ready to engage the government with the right information. And that’s something that came up yesterday in the meetings, once people learnt about what happened in Mukuru and talked to you guys and your teams, that what they are finding in Nairobi that is very helpful, in that we can learn from in other cities, is that citizens are willing to engage the government and to really push for services that they want. So Nicera I wanted to hear a bit more from you about this idea that youth are willing to listen, youth are willing to engage, women are willing to engage. So the idea that citizens are not just passive, waiting at home for the government to bring services, but are willing to come to the table and to make time in their day to come and actually talk about the issues that are important to them. What was the experience in that and how does one build a mobilising, organising present community to drive urban change? 

Nicera Wanjiru Well, you know, my friend, that’s finished everything. But it’s clear that things are changing. Things are changing from how it was before. And you can see the engagement of community but we still have the gaps. We are by now, and the question will be, is the community creating the gaps or the academics creating these gaps? And for me as a person living in the informal settlement, I’ve been in Mukuru in the SPA, the spatial planning area, collecting this data. I’ve also been involved in the railway allocation plan that happened in Kibra and Mukuru as well. I can tell you for sure, we need each and every person. But there’s a trend that comes when the academics feel that they won’t work alone. There’s a time that community feels that, okay, as you know everything, what are you talking about? And then now when they come now, like this presentation, and even you saw it here on Monday, we are by now, ‘Okay, they feel that we are not supposed to be in this meeting, that we are not counted in this meeting on Monday’. And you saw that yesterday we didn’t come to this meeting and simply because there was not that space for the community. There was no community space in the ACRC. And for me as a person I’d really love, and in all these domains and especially in the political domain, the politics of system, to make sure that they understand, they come up with the research that understands the politics of the informal settlement. It is not just about the national politics, to know, it is not about the governor, the MCAs you have the politics around communities. How do we understand those politics? You heard my colleague say about the businesses? 

Eva Muchiri Yeah. Yeah. 

Nicera Wanjiru They are controlling a huge economy in this country. In the, we call it kadogo economy, whereby you buy things in very small, small portions, but then, at the end of the day, you buy them every day. Every day. But as opposed to that person living in a posh area, you go to the supermarket and buy everything, but for me I’ll just buy everything in one day. I’ll buy small, small portions, each and every time I want to cook. How are we engaged, you know, all the young people engaged in all these processes? I’ll say that one thing with Muungano, 70% of all activities that we’re doing, they are driven by the young people, and that is up to us as young people in the community. Because when I collect this data, I will also be trained how to analyse it, because I usually say data mapping or data collection does not end at taking that information from there, from the household level. It needs the academics now. But now you are saying you’re not being. So we need them. As much, whether we like it or not, we need them. Then we are saying these academics now, they need to sit down with us and train us to analyse this data, even if it is like just the basics, the basics. Because for example, you are not there and if something that has happened in Kibra or in Mukuru, what do I do? Then I have all these numbers, one, zero, five ten. But if I have the basics, and that is what Muungano is doing, training us on the basics of how to analyse the data and to be able to help my community. I might be a good, I might be a young person who knows how to collect data but not take it to the next level, writing it to a paper that the government can understand. The government is not going to understand numbers, the zeros take it to your laptop. For them, they want reality, OK in informal settlement X it hears these issues. These are the peoples affected. But before it gets there, it needs all these people, professors, academics, all of them. All of them. And going back again to the ACRC, I think we need this in more depth whereby now, we don’t see a scenario of what happened like on Monday, for example, whereby we are working in the same level. Okay, we can’t be the same level, but  maybe we understand at least the basics of the ACRC and also we understand each and every domain, because they are coming to collect data in our communities. When talk of health, how are these affecting my community, the housing, the political system, all of those things, you are coming to collect it, like just making sure that we understand the programme so well and making sure we have the basics of all this information. And, as I say, and even in climate change, whereby I know it will come somewhere in the programme, we need to localise each and every conversation. 

Eva Muchiri Yeah. And just to add on what Nicera is saying, we know most of the time, even for Mukuru to be successful, even you heard they say it’s richer infrastructure in that the community was left out and the academia went on its own. Now what we don’t want to happen in Mathare, where  the same thing is going to happen, Mathare being declared a special planning area, from the word go, when we started, we want to move as one team, so that even if there’s anything like now in analysing the data, Muugano Federation really supports community in owning the data in the sense that they even train us on how to analyse the data, they even train us on how they came up with the questionnaire. Do we agree on the research tool? We need imply in our communities, if it’s not working, what is working? So they involve us from the word go. And we also look at a time like a project comes, a project leaves, the community will always remain. But now what do you live in that community? What will the community be saying about the ACRC projects? For instance, now, the health domain in Nairobi in Kenya, said it will be in Mathare, in Viwandani. They’re going to do a couple of research. We are going to get some findings. They are going to listen to the community and what their priorities are, isn’t it? Now, will it be the end of that community? What is the community going to grab from ACRC? What is the community going to use the information gathered by the health domain? How are they going to use it for their own betterment? And what is ACRC going to do for this community and what is this community going to gain from ACRC? So we are going to look at a sustainable community that is going to gain from ACRC, which I think that’s the goal of ACRC: interventions that can be seen and can be felt by the communities. Because we are we are not just going to do ‘we collect the data, we use the community’. Then what? We have our own findings. We found that there’s not maybe health facility, there’s a lot of chronic illnesses in the community. What are they doing about it? And now you have your own findings. And what did the community find about their research? What is the uniqueness of this research? What is the community wanting in this research? You have seen there is no health facility. This community is saying there is a facility, but no doctors, no medicine. So are we going to take this opportunity of ACRC research and lobby for doctors and medicines to be in our own dispensary? Because it will help a milestone, of me moving from one community to another community to get the same services that I’m supposed to get in my community. So we also need to look at the interest of the community when we are doing all the research. Which intervention can work in this community and which cannot work? Because there is a way that people say, ‘now after findings, you come up with your own intervention’. You should ask the community. Will this action be felt in the community? The community, it will be felt, but… Listen to that ‘but’. But what? So when you put community voices at the frontline, all the interested areas of research at the frontline, you’ll even find out that, for that intervention to happen, I must do  something about it, because there are a lot of finding that come up even outside the research that you have, but know, and that’s the community priority now comes to you, as you don’t have an issue with the health. We have a hospital, but it has no tools, it has no facility. It is just a structure that’s there. Now you look at, okay, with the stakeholders’ meeting, we can negotiate for these tools to be taken and maybe Viwandani. Why is this construction taking so long? What’s not happening? So you want try to help the community solve its own problem, because when they say we have the problem, we have the solution. So we have the problem and we can tell you how to find the solution. So we just try and negotiate. 

Nicera Wanjiru Thanks and just to add something more about that, I think also the ACRC team should sit down and be able to analyse how they manage the expectation of the communities. Because I tell you for sure, you’re not doing something new. You are going to communities that are very informed, that they know you are getting paid to collect this data, that they know with this data you are going to get a lot of money. They’re going to come up with a lot of projects. So that is the kind of community that you are going to. So how do you manage these expectations? How do you make sure that, by the end of the day, you are bringing something that community will say, ‘Okay, thank you. There was a programme in the name of ACRC and we benefitted’. Even if it is not that much, because we can’t deal with each and every issue in the community, they will just sit down and say, ‘okay, that was a tick’. It was not like any other programme, because researches are being done day and night every day in our communities. So the uniqueness of this project, expectations, the way forward. 

Miriam Maina That’s understandable. Thank you very much. I really like that, because as people who stay in the academy, or stay in the universities, who are trying to change the way we teach and the way we learn and the way we do research. This is one of the things we really have to correct in the future, which is are universities going to continue replicating this model, where we just use community knowledge, community data, community suffering and pains as a way to advance our careers, or are we really going to use the knowledge production institutions and the communities and the implementers to build better cities in the future? So I’m really excited about this and I’m really excited about the work you’re doing as future leaders. I love your passion and I love the passion that you bring to your work and to organising the community and to what future neighbourhoods are going to look like with leaders like you on the ground. So, for me, I was just going to say I’m really excited about how we can build the research communities in future that can actually make genuine urban change. And I really appreciated learning from you too, but I wanted to hear from you too, as, as closing statements, because I don’t want to keep too much of your time, what are you excited about Nairobi today and your work today and the future Nairobi that you are building in the work you are doing? So what’s exciting you about about your work every day?

Nicera Wanjiru I think there’s something forgot and that’s how can we come up with a community driven research? 

Miriam Maina Community driven research that is useful. Thank you. 

Nicera Wanjiru And now what excites me about Nairobi? The  Expressway, there will be no traffic. But now the side effect of that. It’s one, the outside world, they know for sure, OK Nairobi is becoming a First World city and not forgetting that they have very many informal settlements. And with the understanding of our African leaders,  by now we had the UN talk about the smart cities,  there’s also the Africities, the vision 2030 that is going on in Kisumu. Of course I know there’ll be another meeting about the cities. 

Eva Muchiri Yeah. 

Nicera Wanjiru What word can we use… because for us people who are living in the informal settlement, people do not understand that I’m not eating this Express Highway. And I can’t cut a little piece and cook it and or pay school fees to my kid. So people know, okay, these people are, okay, even the donor, because I must say that we need the support from outside, there’s no apologies for that, we can’t sustain ourselves. We need the support. We need the funding. And now with the Express Highway, with the good infrastructure, they are like ‘let’s exit’. I’m not saying that we can’t I’m not saying that we should just focus on the funding, funding, funding, funding. But at the end of the day, even the HIV medication, even not just the HIV or the medication, we are getting funding from outside. And if they withdraw from that, we are going to suffer. I see Nairobi City, even with the ACRC, unless you do magic, I think we are going, we are ending, to not very good. But in terms of how our readers portray us on national platform, because they don’t know the reality of how things are going, they don’t tell you they don’t that in this informal settlement, when it rains, we have to bury peoples, peoples die, they don’t tell you that. They don’t tell you that in Kibra, in Dandora, for example, women are having miscarriages, they’re on the rise in Nairobi. 

Eva Muchiri Mm hmm. Yeah. 

Nicera Wanjiru Because of the chemical emission. They’ll not tell you in Kibagare peoples are facing emission each and every day. And even in other informal settlements, they’ll never tell you the reality. All they’ll talk about is the Expressway, the good roads, the industries, the huge buildings. So but when we sit down and speak about the reality of our cities, I think it’s the other way round. 

Eva Muchiri Well, for me, Nairobi, yes, it’s developing. But it’s developing, who is it bettering? It’s only bettering a few people. Now, if Nairobi is developing it’s okay. But if there’s 70% of people who in Nairobi are not benefiting from what you are doing, then there is something really wrong. Instead they are getting affected and there’s no solution to how they’re being. Do you get me? Because now you see, for the Nairobi Expressway, for instance, it’s evicted families in Mukuru, isn’t it? A whole mountain. And it even became chaotic. It was even being seen in Al Jazeera because our local media was banned from showing it. So there’s the business community in Kenya and the politics and the politics. They play a big role in Nairobi’s economy. So the common wananchi, the common Wanjiru, Wanjiku does not, for instance, like now the way the economy is, if you ask a person who lives in the informal settlement, how do you see Nairobi?  Our answer is, ‘It’s a hell’, because there’s no way; the business community is not thinking about the common wananchi. Yeah, the common wananchi, in reality, we contribute tax more than the person who is in the formal elite. The informal people, we really pay a lot of tax because for us we depend on the small economy, the kadogo economy, the daily economy, the everyday economy, for us we have to budget for today. Tomorrow, God will bring. That’s how we live in this informal settlement. But the person who lives in the formal area, you will do your monthly shopping and you will do your monthly budget. For us, we do a budget for that day.  For tomorrow, when tomorrow reaches, we do the mathematics, depending on how much I have, on how much I’ve gathered, you get me? So yes, it’s developing, but the way it’s affecting most of the Nairobi residents here, if people are asked, there was no need for even the Expressway because it is a debt. It’s being built on a debt basis, yet we will have more debts. You imagine now even in Nairobi, in reality, even Kenyatta Hall, even a child who even has not been born, has a debt, when you calculate. The budget itself that is being read by the Treasury does not favour the common wananchi. Not everybody is a civil servant. Most of that depend on our daily businesses. We are not recognised by the government. The people who are in the jua kali sector, we are not recognised. Because like recently during Labour Day, you hear the civil servants are being added salary 12%. That’s a personal reason that basically the informal settlement people, majority which is  90%, we don’t depend on salary. We depend on our business. So at least the government could have thought of, what about the daily economy? What am I going to do? Am I going to reduce the food prices? Am I going to reduce the fuel costs? Like now food, I tell you, in the informal settlement, there are people who sleep hungry and there are people who depend on only one meal a day. There are children who are not going to school because they cannot afford even school fees. There are children who are not going to  school because they have bad health. There are people who are not going to work because they haven’t even eaten. How will I go to work and I don’t have even the energy? Yes, the development is good, but how much is it implicating in reality, it’s not favouring the common wananchi. It’s only for a certain community.

Nicera Wanjiru It is not at all. And I’ll say this and without fear of contradiction. I see in Nairobi whereby we have so many walking dead, a city full of buildings, a city full of good roads that will all be walking dead like a desert. 

Eva Muchiri Yeah. 

Nicera Wanjiru If we are not careful, and I know you’ve all seen this, there’s so many buildings that are mushrooming, mushrooming each and every place. And also the roads in the area are cutting down trees like nobody’s business. So in a few years to come, we’ll have a beautiful city, but walking dead. 

Eva Muchiri No people in it. 

Miriam Maina Fascinating. Thank you for that. 

Eva Muchiri The businesses, the buildings that are coming up are very good. Now, like the affordable housing, it was meant for the informal settlement people. But mark you, there is no person who is going to benefit from an informal settlement from that project. The people who live, the civil servants and the formal workers are the ones who are benefiting. And even you find a building has not yet finished, but it is fully procured. 

Miriam Maina Yeah. So we’ll continue to get this wrong until we find out, until we learn how to build a city that can accommodate the majority of the population. 

Nicera Wanjiru A city that has inclusivity in it.

Miriam Maina Affordable and inclusive city. 

Nicera Wanjiru I’d really love for ACRC to make sure, by the end of these five years, they have solutions for the cities. They’ve come up with declarations. Declare action, not declarations of the cities. 

Eva Muchiri Yeah, yeah. 

Nicera Wanjiru Because we are fed up with declarations. I know you’ll be having meetings, maybe next year or next year but one. Please, just come up with declare actions of cities. Tell us what we want in cities. What is workable? What is not workable? Let’s understand the politics of each and every sector. If it is politics of system, if it is informal settlement, if it is, I’ll say, if I understand politics from the grassroots to the national. 

Eva Muchiri And how it works. 

Nicera Wanjiru And how it works. 

Eva Muchiri And how can communities fit in? Because it seems if you don’t work with this team, for instance, if you attack a department, maybe in county government, the whole project’s shut down. But now we really need to understand, okay, like now we have political settlements, we have city of system, we have the domains. How, after we do the research, what have we found? How does the community fit in politics? How does community, what rights does the community have to hold accountable this government? Because part of the Muugano federation, we know, now we want facts. If it’s climate change, an act, if it is housing, an act on housing, that will favour the common wananchi and not the formal people, the business community at large. We are the bigger community and we demand, not even we request, we demand for inclusivity. Because even in developing anything, even in public participations, we got public participation, but whatever we discussed there, does not even go beyond the door. It is closed inside there, it does not go beyond. So they need to even come down and listen to us. So we really need to understand how can the local wananchi fit into the national politics and what’s right and how does this person need to hold these people accountable and how do I fit in, for them to understand me? So there needs to be that channel and we really need to have inclusivity. If there’s inclusivity, really, things can go. 

Nicera Wanjiru And this one will be like a game changer in cities that the ACRC. Because one thing for sure, with all these organisations and, as I mentioned earlier, we are having so many activities around cities and we are having a lot of documents that talks about cities. But we talk about cities and we forget in these cities we have informal settlement. In these cities we have communities, we talk about smart cities, but now Uhuru Kenyatta or whoever will be the president will understand smart cities is evicting the informal settlement to make it smarter. We’ve seen in Lagos, Nigeria, we’ve seen even in other countries, where by now evictions are the order of the day. So we don’t want another programme that would expose us to eviction. 

Eva Muchiri Yeah, yeah. We don’t want what happened in Mukuru repeated. 

Nicera Wanjiru The repeats. 

Eva Muchiri Of what. 

Nicera Wanjiru Happened in Mukuru. 

Miriam Maina But again in the name of infrastructure. 

Eva Muchiri Yet when you come to finding out, it’s people with interests, the government comes and tries to hide. At the same time, they’re replaying the mix. So it’s as if they are playing us a game, that they see us as fools we don’t understand. But in reality, we really understand the game they are playing and it’s high time now that governments to be held accountable and now even the judiciary needs to be straightforward and aside from politics and to be an independent, because if  the judiciary is independent, then the common wananchi will be happy. Because even this eviction was in court and it was solved. But again, people came. So you see there is a game there, there is really a game. So that’s why I’m saying we really need to understand the local politics to the national politics. How do the community fit in, in public participation and implementations that are happening? So inclusivity is the only game changer. And so we wish and we hope ACRC will be the game changer of Nairobi city. 

Nicera Wanjiru And also in other cities. And also for these domains to sit down and come up with a unifying factor. Where do they connect? And push for that one thing. Because, one thing for sure, these things happen, but you find that the housing pulled out. The health pulled out. But from the inception, please make sure that you find out what the unifying factor in there, what can bring you together and work towards that goal. 

Eva Muchiri And in reality, all the domains correlate. And so the domains needs to be updating one another. You’ll be updating one another because they relate. Housing affects health. Health is affected by the structural transformation, which is the business community. Now, safety and security is under before the city of system, the political, so there is a way they are relating. So when they work together, we will achieve. Not you want fully, but bit by bit we will try to achieve the goal aimed for ACRC project in Nairobi. Because for us, we really need to change, we really need to change. And the change begins with us. If we accept, you are a loser, my friend. You live on one day find yourself not in this city. But when you accept, you are a winner and you have a right to be involved in every participation and every conversation that is going around within the city. You even feel proud whenever change is coming within your community, because you were involved. So if you don’t involve me and you come and bring it to me, I will not accept it. But if you involve me from the word go, I will fully participate and I will even help you on how to go about it. But if you don’t involve me, I will not accept it. And that’s how we always have a back and forth argument. That’s why you see, during the night they just come and ambush you and they do whatever they want during the night. And we had ours because they know they look wananchi. At this time you are asleep, so I can do anything. So what we really need to do, we really need to wake up and know where do we stand, where do we really stand? So the young people need to take up because the elderly don’t have the energy and they cannot speak maybe fluently. But for us, because we have the energy, the courage, we can even speak fluently and clearly, we really need to be at the forefront of every activity. 

Nicera Wanjiru Yeah, very true. And to wrap up now, maybe I can say that there’s nothing for us without us. Enough for us is the community. If indeed ACRC is for communities, lets involve communities from the word go. 

Eva Muchiri And for us we are going to achieve it. If it’s if it’s, whatever domain, wherever you decided to do your research, involve the community,  from the word go. Involve the local stakeholders from the word go. With the help of the community we would be able to get the stakeholders, we now start a journey, a small journey, slowly by slowly and we’ll achieve. And even some of the opportunities can be grabbed from the research. So ACRC is a good project, but now the communities are here. This is the base. Yes, the communities are here. The domains have a methodology on how to do your research with the findings. Whatever you find in the findings, put the community with this effort and everything will be success. Yeah. 

Miriam Maina Also this has been Eva Muchiri and Nicera Wanjiru and I was Miriam Maina. Thank you very much for your time and your very insightful comments. I appreciate it. 

Eva Muchiri Thank you so much for having me. 

Nicera Wanjiru Thank you. 

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